Our February meetings were very interesting:
February 1 — Dick Berry, a Technical Society member and founder of Rembco, a geotechnical contractor that specializes in foundation support, soil stabilization and specialty grouting,was the speaker. He discussed karst soils and the interconnectedness of soils and weather and energy.
February 8 — Larsen Jay, President of DoubleJay Creative and Dogwood Entertainment, spoke of his experience as a director, writer, producer of television and video shows, and more recently of the just released film “That Evening Sun” starring Hal Holbrook, and filmed near Knoxville. He described the varied projects that his companies undertake and the resources available to him.
February 22 — Gilbert Cremese, a retired engineer from France who worked with Framatome and Areva described his work- primarily in planning nuclear projects in France. The French nuclear program was more cost effective than the United States nuclear program – probably because the French were able to standardize nuclear plant design. He
ended his career in nuclear working in nuclear fusion. He described a timetable for nuclear fusion power plants that means most of the technical society members need not expect to heat our toasters with power from nuclear fusion.
I, Bob Scott, was reminded of what I considered a fiasco in the construction of nuclear power plants in the United States. When I worked in the chemical industry I learned how costly it was to make changes during construction. The Du Pont engineering design division was bad about making changes – to the extent that equipment manufacturers would bid below cost on equipment
items and then make their profit by overcharging on the changes that seemed to be inevitable. It was clear to me that it was cheaper to build a plant according to the original design and then make the necessary modifications after the first construction contract was complete or nearly complete. Once the construction people got money committed, they would swear it was a major change to remove something and removing something- even a significant expensive item- would never reduce the cost of the plant, I was horrified to discover that nuclear plant construction management included groups that worked on changes during construction. Based on my experience with construction, I consider a group making changes during construction to be a group dedicated to massive cost overruns. There were many
people opposed to nuclear power plants and some of their objections were legitimate but no objections should have been allowed to cause changes during construction.
I believe the French were able to avoid expensive overruns by using standardized designs along with modern scheduling tools – at least, that was my conclusion after listening to the speaker.